1 : Bit By Bit
The opposite of concatenation :
splitting into syllables.
When speaking, we handle parts of words with
semi-automatic ease. This includes "rules" of
dialect, which can be expected to apply at the
lowest level of construction -
("unless otherwise stated").
The type of hard-O which, by rule, is doubled,
was earlier stated to apply to "start/end" words,
like over and go.
That was a deliberate oover- simplification,
designed to lull the new Reader . . .
well, you know the rest !
Now at the "gloves-off" stage, we should look
closely at the vowel occurring at the start/end
of every self-respecting syllable. E. g. :
chosen has the double-o, whereas
choke does not; despite being words of
almost equal, overall, length.
Several words in the latter (mid-u) category
have been identified, but they must form a
minority; because multi-syllable words are
Hence the likelihood of hearing the double-o
more often; and its fame as the
This still leaves a coom(b) in a bathroom
atoom [at home].
It should be easier to ascribe the vowel-sound
when the word is obviously a composite,
e.g. - nowhere, no-one, nobody.
Note : If the stress is laid on body, as it may be,
the case falls, and "mid-u" may return.
There is also the [rural] alternative of noobra
which reverses things !
2 : The Ing Thing
The -ing suffix is a standard form of
compositing. The word going is one we have
been compelled to use, and to note its own
standard form : a-gorn.
Common as this is, you will be hard pressed
to find any strictly comparable word - e.g.
doing is a complete exception (see D.7 ).
The similar words usually end in -owing
(including owing itself !). This being so,
and the w intervening, the rule does not
apply in all these cases; any more than it
does with the first syllable e.g. row does not
An approximation to the sound of rowing is
rarn, rather than rorn; similarly marn
(the grass), narn (being cognisant of),
tarn (a trailer/boat).
The words starting with 's' are very different
and highly instructive :-
(a) Sowing (as seeds) is sarn - as above;
The last case underlines how Norfolk people
(b) Sewing (as needlework) is heard
as for (a) in levelled-down Norwich,
but as soo-in elsewhere.
see (i.e. hear) 'talking-proper' or posh-speech.
After all, their "betters" (the Gentry) would seem
to think that everybody should pronounce their
O's as if every O was, in fact, an EW.
(Gew-on, try it . . .)
They are wrong, inasmuch as the "Suffolk-O"
is an EW, yet is not pronounced like standard
English; mainly because the mouth is not
And owing itself? : Arn. Too bad that this
sounds very like On, when it is a-gorn o-o-on.
3 : Minimalism
When is a composite still a composite? -
when it is only a tense.
OO yis indeed : just adding a -d
(if necessary an -ed ) makes an extra syllable.
(For our purposes, anyway !)
close : Thass as cluss as you'll gi(t)
Try saying 'clo-sed', as in 'devo-ted'.
["mid-u" sound, of course]
closed : ( 1 more letter, ? still 1 syllable)
The Nag's Ead, thass cloosed.
[ no, not is closed ].
You will, if you are devoo(t)ed to your studies,
see the point; without assuming that the natives
go around saying 'clo-sed' (they don't !).
That is to say : there is stress, or implied
stress, on each o.
We moo the grass but, as we just noted,
do the marn.
The mere addition of -er has the same
dramatic effect : Less bara yer mar,
then Oi cen gi(t) gorn on moi grarss..
See Story R
Norfolk adds -er to the word hind, giving a
better result than the clumsy "hind-quarters",
namely hinderpar(t); which also can be used
freely - in connection with any object.
Hinder, on its own, means either rear
(of course) or, on the contrary, hither.
So hither & thither become hinder & yon.
The Nag's Head pub [or just some blook]
bucks any minimalist trend. Hereabouts the
person or institution is given a notch more
respect : either - Fred, (h)e say or
Tha(t) blook, (h)e say; but not 'Fred say . . .'
4 : Adverbs AWOL
By imagining closed as 'clo-sed', we can make
some sense of the fact that closely retains the
"mid-u" sound of the adjective.
Applying the rule-of-thumb - "does the vowel
fall at the end of the [first] syllable?" confirms
the matter : doubtless IF you add -ly
you add a syllable.
We know that whoolly is much used in Norfolk,
and that the word derives from 'whole-ly'.
So the "mid-u" sound is exactly what we should
expect, and ties-in (closely) with closely and
other such examples.
Confession is not only good for the soul,
but necessary for academic integrity.
The confession, at this point, is that words like
closely probably don't exist locally -
regardless of how they would be pronounced
if they did!.
Norfolk is happy to use well (wal ), as the
specially-created reverse of badly
(what's wrong with goodly?),
but prefers "a trea(t)"
Generally, however, we choose to leave our
adjectives unadorned by any -ly, yet use
them adverbially - without fear or shame.
5 : Tensed-Up
Still in "sackcloth and ashes" mode, we must
admit that the word chosen was also badly
chosen - as an example of a "double-o" word.
Yes, it would be pronounced thus,
if it were ever employed in speech.
But, as we admitted at the very start, a word
like spoken is unknown in Norfolk.
The -en ending is shunned (para. 7)
like the -ly ending, only more so . . .
The have participle, being obligatory, is often
pared-down to near-extinction.
Two tenses that look remarkably alike :-
(a) Oi spook ter (h)im;
Presumably, the context (perfect-tense)
(b) Our spook ter (h)im.
(Clue : pluperfect comes first).
can, once again, take the strain.
Speak, at any rate, is a regular verb.
Irregulars are worse !.
It was claimed (see D.9 ) that
'he done great'
is a blunder which would not occur in Norfolk;
yet our pluperfect did is another Cinderella
word (like went ).
Repeating her mistake, the woman apologised :
Yis, Oi done tha(t) afore.
Consider these alternatives:-
(a) Did you goo? - Tha(t) Oi did;
Now option (b) is very much the more likely;
Where'd (h)e goo? - E wen(t) tha(t) way.
(b) Heyya bin? - Tha(t) Oi hev;
Where'd (h)e goo? - E goo tha(t) way.
so what is the likely Norfolk version of
'He done great'? - - Here done wal. [can you
spot the two parts of the perfect tense?]
6 : Not Too Good
More recantation : it is unlikely that he will have
done well - in so many words. People in Norfolk
are not given to praise, even when it is well-merited.
So our final attempt to translate
'He done great' is :-
E hen(t) done too bad.
Please note :-
This grudging praise is only one example of the
- Not badly
- In Norwich : E in(t)
renowned Norfolk mastery of under-statement.
Any relevant book will emphasise this
philosophical approach to life and language.
Continued . . .
The finest instance must relate to the dominant
topic of all conversations (no, not sex or football).
On a typical ultra-cold day, with a spine-chilling
wind-frost, the greeting is :-
Thass noon too swe(tt)y a-day.
Too is perfectly in order, here, and retains the t.
It is not also (anorl) and is pronounced normally
(tew). Today, however, loses its T.
If it is extremely windy -
Thass a bi(t) draughty inta?.
I can only speculate that the expression noted
by Skipper -
rafty ow'd wather! is a derivation.
A Norfolk person may be feeling decidedly
'off-colour' (see I.6 ), yet will admit
only to being No(t) too fairce.
This is fierce, not face; but when did you
last see a fiercely healthy individual?
A vast football crowd, filling the Carrow Road
stadium to capacity, may be reported to one of
the few non-attenders as : Yis, sav'rul there . . .
7 : Plurals
Avoiding the -en endings, in the perfect tense,
clears the decks for the "Norfolk Plural" :
the alternative to s or es.
Important examples are housen
and yourn (as yawn).
Of course the latter is the "possessive" ending,
not a plural !. Fascinating cases are :
meezen (mice), fi(tt)en (feet), neesen (nests).
The similar word hissen is also out-of-place,
not being plural; but a Scottish-type variant of
To complete the neglect of him/them,
Norfolk's plural : theirsalves. However,
the plural of child is childer not childrEN (!!).
Conversely, the use of -en for plurals has
a potentially dire effect upon many words
ending in those two letters.
A famous example is that broken objects
are merely broke (pron. brook ).
Past-participles, like taken - made pluperfect -
(i.e. took) have been covered in para. 5 above.
Norfolk is not alone in according people,
in the plural or in general, the wrong
conjunction : (e.g. Them as is, Them what . . .)
Some onnem wooss [what is]
a-gorn there . . . means
"Some of them [ H.1 ] who are going there".
They is a word usually given the long-drawn-out
vowel (drant); but context rules, and - at the end
of a phrase - it is truncated to 'the' (even thuh) :
Tha-a-ay do, dorn(t) the?
As we have already seen, there are
no plurals in "weights and measures"
a t'ree kor(t)er coo(t) is a garment of generous
length; but matter, unbeknown and various other
words get a gratuitous final s.
8 : Pluralism
In the same way that the Norfolk tongue finds
many and varied uses for the word do, the word
fare is greatly exploited - especially rurally.
Standard English is happy to disregard the word
as archaic, but still recognises a "farewell".
It should come as no surprise that, in Norfolk,
we routinely say : Fare yer wal, agatha -
which is precisely how a farewell was born!.
Even in Surrey, a businessman may ask
another if his firm is faring well, or faring badly.
In fact, we all know what it means . . .
If the answer is in the negative, a chap feeling
poorly may say : Oi dorn(t) fare noo ma(tt)ers.
Tha(t) fare ter mizzle (drizzle) is poised
delicately between actually raining and looking
very like doing so.
So Norfolk usage can highlight the on-going
and forward-looking nature of the term.
See these stories (yarns) :-
N.2 : how a sick person fared to get up
An old fellow out-of-form on the
= attempted to.
N.1 : how the medicine fares to gripe him
= tends to, or have the effect of.
bowling-green exclaimed :
Oi dorn' know woo(t) ha' gone wro-o-ong . . .
Tha(t) fare as if Oi carn'(t) do no-o-othin' roigh(t).
In this case fare equates to seems.
9 : It Takes All Sorts
People are as different as can be. They say,
in Yorkshire, that there's nowt so queer as folk.
Should two people, in fact, look very much
alike (as may well happen in families) i.e.
they resemble each other, one is said to
blee the other (in Norfolk, not Yorkshire !).
Should a woman happen to be of very
"masculine" appearance, she is termed
Slovenly, stupid or mischievous people crop-up
continually; so have been mentioned elsewhere.
Slovenly at I.10;
Stupid at L.10
Clever people, in the sense of well-educated,
but to be clever (clavver)
in Norfolk is to be either handsome of
appearance or adroit and dextrous in
(Handsome is as handsome does??)
Jannock is not confined to E. Anglia
and means fair and/or honest.
A sneaky or crafty person is a draw-latch.
Given that a latch (noun) is the same all-over,
you can picture the scene (if you recall that
draw can mean 'drag').
Somebody nosing around is said to be peerkin'.
To draw along is to move slowly (drag, dawdle).
A disagreeable person is a puke
- a word since appropriated for other uses!.
A supercilious person is graphically described
as a sneerfroys; but to be nasty-particular
(narsty-patic'la) isn't as bad as it sounds.
It merely means fastidious or very precise.
10 : The Long, The Sort And . . .
Many people are blessed (or cursed) with
short stature and other physical attributes.
Ti(tt)y-to(tt)y means very small,
so is usually reserved for children.
A short, squat person is a dop-a-low[ly],
taken from dop - meaning a perfunctory
curtsey (short & quick).
A similar word (also related to a famous
Liverpool comedian) is doddy, or
hoddy-doddy; also meaning - of short stature.
Somebody may be knap-kneed (knap being
an old form of knock ); or may walk with the
toes turned outward i.e. slop-foo(t)ed
(or kor(t)er ter t(h)ree).
To limp is to himp, if you are (h)impy-lairme.
Walking unencumbered, quickly and
with long strides, is to strome.
Taking long strides (i.e. to lope) is also called
lampin' along in Norfolk.
[lamp and limp wouldn't work together . . .]
An agile, sprightly person (usually quite old,
so you would particularly notice the fact . . .)
is said to be kedgy.
Lean and lanky is squinny; although a skinny, ill-fed person of any height is scrawny.
Finally, a good example of the perversity noted
elsewhere : given that ears are lugs in Norfolk.
If a person is luggy, one might assume he/she
has big ears. But, in the contrary sense, it means
the ears (of whatever size) are not working well,
i.e. the person is hard of hearing.
11 : In Charge
Some people are born leaders and dominant
personalities (many are not tall!).
A nailer is domineering or very determined;
and a stifler always seems busy;
and usually takes the lead.
The farm foreman is probably accorded
the title Hid Stifler.
To be uprigh(t) is no great compliment :
it simply means not having to work for a living!
To have jurisdiction of something does not
imply legal training or State powers : it is simply
being in charge (having the governance of)
A wife, feeling unable to handle a business
enquiry in the absence of her Lord and Master,
may say :-
Noo, moi man (h)e (h)ev jurisdiction-a tha(t);
you'll ha(tt)er wair(t) till E gi(t) (h)oom.
It is, of course, up to the foreman or other Boss,
to see that things are kept in good order.
Other parts of the U.K. would describe a thriving
enterprise (e.g. a farm) as being in "good kilter".
In Norfolk it is kel(t)er.
Modern technology is viewed with suspicion,
at any time : even the humble draughtsman's
approach to paper-plans was derided as :
A loine an' a rule goide [guide] many a fule.
A defender of old practices, and established
crafts, may complain about "new-fangled"
inventions & gadgets as them modern pearks.
If something is untidily packed,
he will complain that it is wibbled.
On the other hand, something emerging in
perfect shape (from the production process)
will be praised as being free of fault/mistake :-
There 'en(t) a wry in 'em!
[the opposite of going awry].